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Or o'er the fea fufpended she could glide,
In this description of VIRGIL there is not the least truth. No one perfon, however light and agil, being ever able to run along unbending corn, or skim along the main without wetting the feet, or do any thing that might give a colour for any fuch imagination.
The account Lord LANSDOWNE gives of Hyperboles is very just and suitable to our purpose:
Hyperboles, fo daring and so bold,
Difdaining bounds, are yet by bounds control'd;
They mount with truth, and make a tow'ring flight;
And his cenfure upon the madness of Hyperboles, well deferves our remembrance:
Thus Poetry has ample space to foar,
"Kill'd as he was, infenfible of death, "He ftill fights on, and scorns to yield his breath †.” The
* Illa vel intactæ fegetis per fumma volaret
The noify culverin o'ercharg❜d lets fly,
§ 5. If an Hyperbole is too high, it may be qualified by fome fuch infertions, as, Methinks, it feemed, it looked like, if I may fo fay, or if I may be permitted, or fome fuch cautionary exprefsions +. Thus LUCIUS FLORUS fays, "that "the ships were built with such dispatch in the "second Punic war, that it seemed as if they "were not made by men, but that the trees "were converted into fhips by the Gods 1." Mr COWLEY foftens the Hyperbole, when, describing the Giant GOLIATH, he says,
* Lord LANSDOWNE's Efay upon unnatural Flights in Poetry. See his Works, vol. i. p. 90.
+ Et fi quid periculofius finxiffe videmur, quibufdam remediis præmuniendum eft; ut ita dicam, fi licet dicere, quodammodo, permitte mihi fic. Quod idem etiam in iis quæ li centiùs tranflata erunt, proderit, quæ non tutò dici poffunt. In quo non falli judicium noftrum, folicitudine ipfa manifeftum erit. Qua de re Græcum erit illud elegantiffimum, quo præcipitur ita, posTITANσ TN UTEgSoλn. QUINTIL. lib. viii. cap. 3. $3.
Atque etiam fi vereare, ne paulo durior tranflatio effe videatur, mollienda eft propofito fæpe verbo; ut fi olim M. Ca tone mortuo, pupillum fenatum quis reli&um diceret, paulo durius; fin, ut ita dicam, pupillum, aliquanto mitius eft. CICER. de Orat. lib. iii. § 41.
Ut non naves arte factæ, fed quodam munere Deorum in naves mutatæ arbores viderentur. LUCII FLORI, lib. ii. cap. 2.
The valley now the monfter feem'd to fill,
And Mr WALLER gives us an example of the fame kind in his description of a Whale:
Their fix'd javelins in her fides fhe wears,
The advantage arising from these cautionary. exprefsions, is, that the speaker cannot be accused of a want of understanding, when he makes ufe of an Hyperbole beyond the limits ufually granted to fuch a Trope; because, before he introduces it, he intimates his apprehension of its excess by a kind of jealousy concerning its approbation. And this caution is a fort of passport for the Hyperbole, for by making an apology for an expression before you utter it, you prepare the hearers for a reception of what may appear too marvellous, and too nearly the romantic, provided at the fame time, according to what we but now observed, there is but the leaft degree of truth or refemblance at bottom; but where thefe are abfolutely wanting, there is a difmal vacuity of sense, notwithstanding the greatest pomp of exprefsion, and every device that can pofsibly be practifed. But I cannot say any thing more fuitable on this point, than what Dr TRAPP has faid before me. "We are not de
Davideis, book iii.
+ WALLER'S Battle of the Summer Islands.
viating, fays he, from the right rule of think"ing in Metaphors, Hyperboles, Ironies, nor " even in equivocal fpeeches, nor fancies, nor poetical fables, when they are properly used § "for there is a wide difference between falfhood " and fiction, between that which is really false, "if I may fo fpeak, and that which has only the "appearance of what is falfe. Right reafon is
laid as the foundation of juft Tropes and Fic❝tions. Truth fuftains the apparent falsity; "which is fo far from deftroying, that it adorns "the truth *.”
§ 6. If you make use of more than one Hy$ perbole in a sentence, as fometimes there may be grace and propriety in an afsemblage of them, take care that they rife and ftrengthen upon one another; for otherwife, when you have raised the hearer's expectations, you will disappoint them with a very disgustful defect, and poverty of idea, and this too in a Trope that should be peculiarly ftrong and animated. Falls are never fo great and dangerous as thofe from an uncommon height. For inftance, how mean had it been
Nec Metaphoris, Hyperbolis, Ironicis, imo vel æquivocis locutionibus recte ufurpatis, neque etiam commentis & fabulis poeticis, a recta cogitandi norma aberratur. Inter falfitatem enim & fictionem, inter id quod verè falfum eft (fi ita loqui diceat) & id quod falfi tantum fpeciem induit, per multum intereft. Tropis iftis & fictionibus recta ratio, tanquam fundamentum, substernitur; veritate fuftinetur apparens ifta falfitas; quæ veritatem exornat, non deftruit. Trappii Prale. Poetic. vol. i. p. 184. p. 184. ....1 & #21....
been in HORACE, if he had faid that care flew fwifter than the winds, or the ftag, or could even keep pace with the horse on full speed? but how do the ideas rife upon the mind, and gradually augment the velocity of that diftrefsing passion which he describes, when he says!
A like inftance we may meet with in C1CERO: "What Charybdis is fo devouring? Charybdis, do I fay? which, if there was fuch a "monfter, was only a single animal. Even the "ocean itself, believe me, seems scarce capa"ble in fo little a time to ingulph fuch a quantity of riches, fo variously dispersed, and "at such distant places, as ANTONY has “ done †.”.
Care climbs the veffel's brazen prow,
Sits faft upon the racer's fteed;
Scandit æratas vitiofá navés .
HORAT. Od. lib. ii. od. 16.
+ Qua Charybdis tam vorax? Charybdin, dico? quæ & fuit, fuit animal unum. Oceanus, medius fidius, vix videtur tot res, tam dipatas, tam diftantibus in locis pofitas, tam cito abforbere potuiffe. CICER. Phil. . § 27.